There was a boarding house on Commercial Street in San Francisco kept by 'Red Pat' Riley. It was here that a hardened detective told the story of seeing a ghost.
SAN FRANCISCO, 1889
He described that Red Pat's house welcomed newcomers to the city, and many fights took place under its roof. Many of the brawlers found themselves in the morgue by the day's end.
One night a miner was killed at the boarding house. Someone stabbed him in the chest with a Bowie knife. He'd been robbed, and the city buried him in a pauper's grave.
The next night after the man was murdered, the person who stayed in the room, roused everyone in the house with shrieks. They found him convulsing on the floor.
Red Pat had not mentioned anything of what had taken place only 24 hours before. What the man described when he recovered raised the hair on everyone's head.
The man said he woke up in the night to hear someone talking. He sat up and thought at first the conversation came from the room next door. Then he realized whoever spoke was in the room with him. A shadowy outline convinced him of this fact. The talking ceased, and all was still.
Suddenly he heard the noise of a struggle, a cry and a body falling to the floor. He lost consciousness after this.
Red Pat thought a rival was putting the man up to it by spreading stories of a haunting in his boarding house. He asked the detective to investigate if this was the case.
The detective then visited the boarding house and asked if anyone knew the murdered miner. A young man had traveled with him from the mines.
The detective asked him to stay all night in the room with him, and identify if indeed it was the miner's apparition after all.
That night both men sat in the room where the miner was killed. They shared some liquor, and the young miner drank so much he passed out. The detective began to doze when the sound of someone talking brought him to full wakefulness. Even though the lamp was lit he could not identify where the voice was coming from until he looked towards the bed. Someone was lying in it.
The detective recognized the murdered miner was the person in the bed. He pulled out his revolver and rapped the table with it, but the ghost did not look at him.
He tried to wake his companion but he was too drunk. Then the ghost started to speak of his fortunes at the mines, and he made a comment that there was enough for both of them to become rich. He bade an unknown party good night, turned around as if to go seek his bed.
Then the figure on the bed convulsed as if he struggled with an assailant. His clenched hands beat the air, and then he stood up still fighting an invisible foe. It appeared someone had him about the throat. The reenactment did not cause any noise. Then he grabbed his side and fell on the bed.
In the meantime, the young miner had come awake and all he could do was look in horror and fury at the apparition. He went to the bed trying to touch it.
Then the detective accused him of murdering the miner. Later he went on to confess to the crime. The ghost was never seen again.
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by M.P. Pellicer